In the baggage hall at Schiphol, Aviapartner employees have started using the first of the airport’s new baggage robots.

The robot is taking over the heavy physical work – the lifting of suitcases – from the baggage handling staff. Schiphol purchased 19 robots after positive reactions from employees during a trial earlier this year.

In addition, the airport has acquired a 10% stake in Cobot Lift, the company that makes the robots, in order to ensure a swift roll out and scaling up at Schiphol.

The baggage robots were specially and speedily developed for Schiphol in the past six months. Because the employee and the robot work together, the airport expects the robot to be able to lift at least 80% to 90% of all baggage items without problems when used on a large scale.

An initial trial was carried out this summer, after which the airport decided to fast-track the purchase of the robots.

Next robots

The number of robots is being increased step by step, with the next 5 robots set to be installed at the airport next month. Schiphol and the handling companies are thus taking the necessary steps to reduce the physical workload of baggage employees, as required by the Labour Inspectorate.

CEO Ruud Sondag previously said: “People must come first again at Schiphol, which is why it’s important we improve the working conditions of baggage employees. These robots do that. They are the best available worldwide and the tests we did proved that they really lighten the workload of colleagues in the baggage halls. The use of the robot is part of our work to have lifting aids at every workplace by April 2024.”

Erik de Goeij, MD of Aviapartner Netherlands, is proud of the project which is part of several planned improvements. “The Aviapartner employees that will be working directly with the robot have already been trained and other employees will be doing the training too in the coming period,” he said.

“The deployment of the first COBOT is an important step in the transition from physical baggage handling to managing and operating a robot. We’ve recently gained a lot of experience by using the COBOT for the handling of real flights.

“With this knowledge and the adjustments we’ve made, we have taken significant steps towards lightening the employees’ workload and the automation of baggage handling. Given the positive response from our employees, we look forward to the continued rollout of COBOT with great confidence.”
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